Book: The Surrender Experiment

Posted Posted in Books/Resources, Breathe Yoga Newsletter

I’m writing today to heartily recommend a book called The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer. He also wrote The Untethered Soul, which many of you are already familiar with. I’m sure I’ll be writing about that here in the future. Both are amazing, and they fit together like puzzle pieces. Today we’ll start with The Surrender Experiment, which is a bit of a memoir.

So this dude was a long-haired, flip flops-wearing hippie in Gainesville, FL in 1972, and he basically wanted to check out of society to meditate in solitude. He had been a star economics graduate student at the University of Florida, and he was sharp as a tack. He started to meditate, though, and he began to have some powerful experiences. So powerful that he quickly lost interest in pursuing his Ph.D. He was teaching a class or two a week, and it paid him all he needed, since he lived on a shoestring. He’d been able to purchase a few acres in the country north of Gainesville in Alachua, FL, and he was content to live out the rest of his life there, in solitude. And then an acquaintance showed up on his property one Sunday morning to meditate with him. Wha???

He noticed a little voice in his head get annoyed, thinking, “What are you doing here on my property? What part of “solitude” do you not understand??” He was a very smart guy, though, and he contemplated the situation. Who was he to say this was bad? Was he really qualified to judge? When he zoomed out and took a look, it sure seemed like the entire universe had conspired to bring him this gift, this person showing up at that spot at that moment to meditate with him. Who was he to say no? The more he thought about it, it seemed like it was him saying no and the rest of the universe saying yes. David versus Goliath seemed like an even match compared to that! So he decided to disregard that little voice and see the situation through, seeing where it lead. And you know what? It lead to forty years of Sunday spiritual services, open to all, helping thousands of people to experience more peace in their lives. Forty years. And he almost said no. Life clearly had other plans…

Of course he didn’t have the gift of forty years’ worth of hindsight at the time, but he started to catch on right away that life knows what it’s doing. He decided to always say yes to life, whether that little voice complained or not. Hence the name the surrender experiment. He was simply letting his life be an experiment in surrendering to the flow, and he would evaluate the results later. And each time, he was amazed at the pot of gold that was at the end of the rainbow. Sometimes he thought the initial occurrence was bad, but he remembered all the other times when he thought the same and it turned out so well. “This is a gift from the universe, so see it through,” he told himself. And again, each time he was amazed at the intelligence behind all things. He’d look back each and every time and he’d clearly see that life knows what it’s doing. Those “bad” things happened because they were needed to get him to bigger and better places than he had even imagined. Every time!

I’m risking being a spoiler now, but I want to make sure you have an idea of how ridiculous things got after forty years of experimenting with surrender, forty years of saying YES to life. That hippie that wanted to live in solitude ended up being the CEO of a multi-million dollar tech company that helped to pioneer the electronic medical record in the healthcare industry. And he didn’t even care about money!

This book is a study in surrender to an intelligence that’s WAY greater than yours and mine, and the tale it tells is absolutely comical. His conclusion was always that life knows what it’s doing. And the takeaway for you and me is that the same intelligence is working for us to have an awesome life right now. Right now. Regardless of who you are. Regardless of your current situation. Regardless of your past. Regardless of how you feel in this moment. Regardless of your background, your accomplishments, your seeming intelligence, your looks, your body, etc. It has a plan for you. Just get out of the driver’s seat and learn how to ride.

So give it a try. And don’t get mad at yourself when you listen to the little voice in the head and say no. Just notice it, keep doing your best, and note the results. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And trust me, I’m experimenting with the same exact thing! And to be honest, it’s super cool and getting more awesome all the time. With this as a reference point, we’ll be talking about specific things in my life and the lives of others that tell what happens when we say yes to see it through. So cool. And I have no idea what’s to come, but I really look forward to it. Because life knows what it’s doing.

The Moving Sidewalk and the Hamster Wheel

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Hi folks, and a hearty welcome to those that have recently discovered this blog since I finally caved and joined Facebook. We recently bitch-slapped anxiety and death, so now let’s shift gears a bit. And I guess I should learn a better way to phrase that… But seriously, if that phrase triggers a past abusive situation for you, then by learning this stuff, it’ll totally help clear that memory out. It really will. So in that case, it’s a good thing that I said bitch slap. I’m here to help!

Anyway, I recently had a great session with a client who is also a good friend. Or a friend who is also a client. It’s all the same to me, really. People who feel called to shed their ideas of smallness and let who we really are come out to play. And it can be funny, because they might not know this is what they’re getting into when they come in… But this friend certainly does. We’re on the exact same path and she finds it helpful to come in from time to time. And I really enjoy it as well.

We had a really powerful session, and we did a little guided meditation sort of thing at the end, using the breath to really relax the body and open. When we were finished, she said she saw the coolest thing. She was on a moving sidewalk, or people mover, like in the airport. And she was very relaxed as it took her where she needed to go, very gently. Then every so often she would get off of it for some reason and get in a hamster wheel, frantically spinning this way or that and getting nowhere. And then she would realize what she was doing and she’d just hop back on the moving sidewalk, just like that. And she’d once again be gently taken where she needed to go.

The cool thing, too, was the feeling. Because we’re always talking here about feeling our way through life rather than thinking. Those that try it out generally come away with the experience that it just works better. Life is better. Better choices, decisions, relationships, opportunities, etc. And most importantly, more peace. They just feel better. And I’m a freaking math major saying this! A major, major over-thinker… So I’d never say that unless I’ve done it and it works. And experience beats concepts all day long.

So my friend said she felt absolutely wonderful on the people mover, gliding along, totally at peace. And then when she realized she’d gotten onto the hamster wheel, she felt awful. She felt off. It felt wrong, tight. Then when she’d hop back on the people mover, there was that lovely feeling again, always right there for her to choose. She started to see how ridiculous it was to ever get off the people mover and onto the hamster wheel in the first place.

This is a great way to describe what we’re all about here at A Clean Mind, and what I’m practicing as much as anyone. And it’s getting more and more the norm rather than the exception in my own life, and that feels awesome. Life is WAY better. And again, that’s simply feeling your way through life rather than thinking. The thinking mind is always there, of course, to be used when it needs to be used. But it was never designed to lead us. And yet that’s exactly what most of us have learned to do. I know that I sure have! So I’m unlearning that, a little bit everyday.

So be on the lookout for when you’ve hopped out of the flow, off of the moving sidewalk, and onto the hamster wheel. How do you know what this has happened? Because you can feel it in your body. Stress, tightness, contraction. So you take a breath, relax your body, open, and get out of thought altogether for a few seconds. And now you can see what has happened. “Oh, I’ve gotten out of the flow again. No problem, let me hop back in now.” Take another breath, and off you go. It really is that simple. Seriously! Just takes practice. It’s all about catching it sooner and sooner, too. Much easier to deal with. And again, that just takes gentle practice.

I’ll be writing about Michael Singer’s two books before long (I hope), and they both fit what we’re talking about really well. They go together puzzle pieces, too. He’s just a very clear, awesome teacher. If I’ve mentioned them before, my bad. Memory is the first to go… The Surrender Experiment, his memoir, describes his experience of choosing this flow, which is available to all of us all the time (literally), for the last forty years. And what a story it is! A hippie who wanted to check out of society to mediate ended up becoming CEO of a billion dollar tech company. Read that sentence again. And again. And he didn’t even try to make this happen, nor did he even care much about money! Life had different plans for him, and he just followed that each and every day. And The Untethered Soul describes what’s going on energetically and physically in our bodies when we close ourselves off from this flow and choose the hamster wheel instead. There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way; it’s just painful. The choice is yours!

So there we go, we now have a great visual thanks to my good friend and her experience in our very brief yet deep meditation. I kind of want to go to the airport now to get on one of those moving sidewalk. Pensacola isn’t there yet, though. Small airport. Oh, well. I’ll just hop on the real moving sidewalk instead. Peace out and let me know if I can help!

Song: You’ve Lost, That Tin-gly Feel-ing

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

There’s that well-known scene in the movie Top Gun when Maverick (Tom Cruise) sings to Kelly McGillis in the bar. It’s the Righteous Brothers song, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. Well, we’re changing that up a bit. And yes, I know that’s totally cheesy… But this is a great illustration of anxiety and how misunderstood it us. And how simple it actually is when we understand it. And how ingenious it is as a way for the body to communicate to us. Here we go…

So I was traveling a while back and having breakfast with an old friend. He mentioned that he’d had this tight, tingly feeling in his chest for a couple of weeks. That’s a long time to have a tight, tingly feeling in your chest, by the way. One that you’ve never had before. So I just sort of listened without rushing in. Because it’s annoying when Counselor Guy tries to fix everyone all the time. That ain’t how it works. Relax and let the game come to you.

So I did just that, eating my breakfast and listening, and do you know what he said next? “I think it might be anxiety.” (So it took only 2.3 seconds for the game to come). My readers can certainly guess what I said next: relax for a minute and just take a breath into it. And if it is anxiety, then we’ll know because it’s your body trying to get your attention that something’s bothering you. So I asked him what it might be. But don’t try to figure it out; just relax, breathe, and ask the questions. Then see what comes up. He said that most of his life’s stressors are pretty much the same as they’ve been for a while, so it didn’t seem like that. Things like his job. His job had ramped up a bit recently, but he’s done it for years and he’s seen it all by now. So he didn’t feel like that was it (notice the word “feel”… nice).

Then he said he wondered if it had to do with another situation regarding a loved one. He wondered if he’d been too invested in this other person’s life. This person had some important things going on, and when my friend thought about it, he realized that he’d been totally worried… on behalf of the other person! What a nice thing to notice. He noted that this person is an adult and will be able to survive the situation just fine, and he can let it go. He can help him or support him, but he doesn’t have to worry about it. His body doesn’t have to latch onto it.

So we finished breakfast and hung out some more that day and then we parted ways. And then I got a text the next day saying you know what, that feeling has been totally gone since after we talked about it. Bam! Hells yeah. Love that. Classic stuff, folks. No anxiety disorder, nothing wrong, and certainly no need for medication in this case. All that was needed was an understanding of how this system called the human works and how the body communicates to us about what’s going on in the mind. He was worrying a ton and wasn’t even aware of it, so the body said, “Hey dude, you’re worrying too much. Just calmly think about it instead. Use your wisdom/common sense.” And the voice that the body used to say this was that tight, tingly feeling in the chest. Isn’t that just super cool?? I love this stuff…

Folks, all we’re doing here is learning more about what’s going on. Learning some facts. Psychology has never had facts. It’s been a bunch of theories, and that’s just not good enough. That’s why counseling has always been so hit or miss. I mean, let’s face it, the track record is not that impressive, especially since it’s already 2015. I don’t think anyone can argue with that. It’s time to evolve! I’ve been fortunate to learn some facts about how we’re feeling our thinking and that we have good thinking built in, and I’m doing my best to spread this far and near. And upgrade the field of psychology along the way (good luck with that). There are others out there doing the same as well. It’s like turning the Titanic, though, but we might as well get the ball rolling. So there you go. This is pretty cool. And if you know anyone who is a “victim” to anxiety and doesn’t understand they’re creating it from scratch with their thinking, then please share this! It just takes learning and then gentle practice. Peace out!

The Whistler

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

My readers know that I’ve slowly been “coming out of the closet” regarding my strong belief that death is not real. You can read about that here. The body dies, and fortunately… we are not the body! For now, let’s just think of it as if we are that which animates the body for a relatively short time. And what we really are is just fine before, during, and after the bodily experience (regardless of how the body lives and dies). I’ve just studied this stuff too much and have seen what amounts to this logical math major as way too much evidence. We are spirit or soul or whatever you want to call it. Too much evidence. And we’ll be talking about that more. Please understand, though, that I’m a “legit licensed counselor” and that I’m living and working in the deep south at that. So I’m taking my time. But I definitely believe that death ain’t real. And yes, I still cry at funerals. I miss people. I hate to see others in pain. But I still don’t believe in death. Not even a tiny bit.

So a client of mine that I hadn’t seen in a while came in a couple of weeks after her beloved mother had died. Her body had been sick for years, but my client didn’t think the end was so near. Her mother knew that it was, though, and was very much at peace with it. “My work is done, and you don’t need me anymore,” her mother said very nonchalantly. To which my client replied, “I’ll always need my mom!” Her mom said, “I’ll see the twins. I’ll give you a sign.” Without missing a beat, my client said, “Just whistle.” You see, whistling had an old significance between the two of them. And the twins had been aborted when my client was pregnant many years before, as the result of a very difficult and painful decision.

Her mom passed away shortly thereafter, like maybe even that night or within a couple of days. And two things happened, either the night she died or only a day or two after. The first was a dream. It didn’t feel like any old dream, though. It was much more vivid and realistic. And I’ll bet she’ll remember it for the rest of her life like it was just yesterday, because I’ve talked to so many people who have had a similar experience. Some call this is a visitation.

In this “dream,” her mom was looking radiant, before the effects of cancer had worn her body down. She still had her eyebrows, for instance. And she had a huge smile. Behind her was this warm, beautiful light that even the sun paled in comparison to. Warmer and brighter than the sun?? Yes, warmer and brighter than the sun. Wow! And the message was quite clear: “All is good. I’m perfectly fine.” Needless to say, this provided great relief for my client.

The other thing happened when my client was at home and in the kitchen. I think this was actually the night her mother had died. And in comes her young daughter. And she was whistling. Bam! My client remembered the exchange with her mother about seeing the twins and giving her a sign. “Why are your whistling?” asked my client. Her young daughter replied, “I don’t know.” I asked if her daughter whistled a lot. My client said that she had whistled before, but in spurts. And she was not currently in one of those spurts. She had not whistled for some time. So cool…

This is yet another interesting tale regarding the mystery of death. When you start talking about these things, people start speaking up about their experiences. There are tons of them. Tons. In fact, just this week I was teaching the class at the innovative rehab, Gulf Breeze Recovery, that I now teach every two weeks. And I mentioned this story. And one of the guests there got this look in her eye and glanced over to one of the other guests. I asked her what was going on, and she said she had the same dream experience not long before with one of her parents, I think it was. She was new there, and I had never met her before. And I don’t usually talk about this there. The timing, though, was perfectly lined up, as far as when I had seen my client, when that guest had arrived at GBR, and when I next taught class. And it provided more healing and understanding for this guest.

When we hear and share these stories more, suddenly death doesn’t seem like such a mystery. And it really does start to seem like the body dies, and yet we are not the body. This also jives perfectly with the people that have near death experiences and come back saying that we are literally not the body and that it has no more to do with your true identity than the clothes you are wearing. Which is to say, nothing. Zero. Zippo. Zilch. Nada. You get the idea. (And by the way, if you’re naked as you read this then just imagine that you’re wearing clothes…)

Afterlife is a pretty cool documentary that’s available on Netflix. And there are tons of books by Dr. Raymond Moody (who is featured in Afterlife) and others. The book Final Gifts is pretty cool, too. It was written by two hospice nurses who finally decided that after ten years in the business, they simply had to tell the story of the astonishing things they had witnessed.

This post is meant to demystify death and bring comfort around the subject to you and your loved ones. It’s time we talk about this more. If a blind person can die for a few minutes, be revived in a hospital, still totally blind, and then describe the whole scene in visual detail, then that’s a game changer (watch Afterlife!). It’s time to get real with what’s really going on, because there’s so much more peace to be had once we do. If death is only of the body, then I’m not truly separate from a person after s/he dies. I can carry them around with me, talk to them, love them, feel them. Anytime, anyplace, 24/7. This happens in my office all the time. In fact, I’ve recently noticed that when a client tells me about a loved one that has died, I often feel a strong tingle in my body. I’m serious, and I’m a freaking math major! There’s no embellishment. I’m not trying to do this; I’ve just noticed it, because it can be quite strong. Not subtle. And yes, I still cry at funerals. But on the other side of those tears there is great joy. Why? Because we are no longer separate. There is simply no true separation. So we can be even closer to that one than we were before. Pretty cool, and quite the game changer… Let me know if I can help!